Category Archives: Children

Will the Real America Please Stand Up?


So, I’m not a Bushite, but when the alternative is Donald Trump, Jeb’s simple human decency stands out. A few quotes from this article worth thinking about as we head into the Florida primary:

“He’s entertaining,” [Bush said] of Trump, “unless you’re a woman, or Hispanic, or a disabled person. But it’s not so entertaining when you get disparaged.”

Bush: “It’s not strong to denigrate people. It’s a sign of weakness.”

“When one voter mentioned that she had a special-needs child, Jeb spoke with tremendous passion and fluency about educational solutions for developmentally disabled kids. Please recall that Trump mocked a disabled man by making gimpy arm motions.”

Personal note -if Trump could make fun of a disabled reporter on national television, what do you think he’d have to say about this little guy?

Owen on the Rock in WV 12-30-15

And all of this says nothing about The Donald’s terrifying foreign policy agenda.

Next time you stop to pray for America, remember that America is not just made up of angry rich white billionaires, but also of people of color, people with disabilities, the sick, the poor, people of different faiths, and a whole lot of children of immigrants (unless you are Native American, this means you!).

So if you do pray, pray for all of us, and for us to be a country that chooses compassion over hate this election season.




I will let tomorrow take care of tomorrow

and enjoy today while it lasts.Owen in WV - IMG_0828 Upside down

The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo – The Newbery Project

The Tale of Desperaux, by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Desperaux, by Kate DiCamillo

It was a cute book, but I wouldn’t label it “middle grades” (as the AR folks do). I’d put in the category of good books for advanced Lower Grades readers. In fact, I think I like the title as much as I liked the book. It’s clever. “The Tale of Desperaux – Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread.”  How can you beat that?

From Kate DiCamillo’s Webpage:

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: “Reader, it is your destiny to find out.”

The Tale of Desperaux actually reminds me a bit of  The Princess Bride (which is a huge compliment, by the way), with its general fairy tale kookiness. You can’t help but wonder where does she come up with these things? as you’re reading.

My only gripe — it it even is one — is that I couldn’t figure out which of the kids in my life I would recommend this to. Clearly T, at 12, would consider himself too grown up to read a book about a mouse. Meanwhile, R, though not-quite-ten, reminds me of myself at her age. She’s a very advanced reader for her age and quite proud of that fact. I’m afraid she would also reject a fairytale story as being too “baby.” This is a shame. My only remaining option is S. She’s already 10, but is also the proud owner of a couple of rats. Of course, she thinks rats are the good guys. (I think rats are disgusting.) Maybe I’ll package this book up and send it to her with a copy of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, and see whether she ends up preferring rats as the good guys or rats as the villains.

Has anyone else come across this dilemma? Good book, but trouble placing the audience?

The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread,
by Kate DiCamillo; Audiobook narrated by Graeme Malcolm

Newbery Winner – 2004

AR Level: 4.7; Middle Grades

What if…..


What a great idea!

Just Like You – Down Syndrome



This is a great video for those of us who love someone, know someone, or know someone who loves someone with Down Syndrome.

Owen gives it two thumbs up.

For more information on this important campaign take a look at the Just Like You webpage.

Not All Babies Are Cute


But this one certainly is:

Valentina Guerrero model with down syndrome

What a sweet smile!

She’s the new face of designer Dolores Cortez‘s 2013 children’s swimwear line. And she has Down Syndrome.

I know another baby who’d make a GREAT model:

He’s pretty cute too.

Any takers? Target? Nordstrom? We await your call.

I knew it wasn’t just my imagination


I knew it wasn’t just my imagination.

Yes, You Are Getting Shorter

Of course, T seems to be getting taller by the second, and E reminds me on a daily basis that she plans on being bigger than me when she grows up (and she will be–probably by 6 inches), which might have something to do with it too.

Just goin’ a little crazy, that’s all


Why does work have to be so hard?

Yes, I know. That’s why they pay us to do it.

Book Review: The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke

A.R Level: 4.8

Recommended for: Grades 4-6

The Thief Lord was a really enjoyable read. (Actually, “Awesome!” was my original adjective describing it, and maybe a better one) It didn’t hurt that the story is set inVenice, making everything that much more magical. It also made me want to go back toVenice. For a month. Or maybe a year.

Prosper and Bo are orphans (Why are all the best protagonists in children’s books missing at least one parent? See The Willoughbys for more on this theme.) They’ve run away toVenice to escape the clutches of their perhaps not-so-evil aunt.  As it happens, their aunt only wants Bo, not Prosper, because she wants a cute child (also a theme known to child welfare workers everywhere) and Prosper, at 12, is too old to be “cute.” She has plans to send Prosper away to boarding school.

Once in Venice Prosper and Bo meet up with a group of street children who take them in and introduce them to the Thief Lord. The Thief Lord provides his brood with items to sell for food money and a place to stay – an abandoned movie theatre – and everything seems to be going just swimmingly until (1) the semi-evil aunt returns, and (2) through a series of events you’ll have to read about yourself, the children suddenly need to find a new place to stay.

Although I didn’t expect to find one, I was truly disappointed to learn that there was no sequel, no other opportunity to hang out with these kids. The Thief Lord is one of those books that makes you feel like you actually know these people before you’re done. Thankfully, my friend S., who knows volumes about such things, tells me that Funke’s Igrain the Great is better than Inkheart. So, if I can’t hang out any more with Prosper, Bo and crew, I’m looking forward at least to spending lots of time in the future with Ms. Funke’s other creations.

Afterthought: I should have a separate category for books that were vastly better in book form than as movies. Ella Enchanted, though a good movie, would fall into this category. As for The Thief Lord, I guess I’d better see the movie before making my judgment, but considering that one of the reasons I read this book is because my friend R. said that Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart  was a vastly better book than movie, I suspect that The Thief Lord may fit into this category as well. If you’ve read the book and seen the movie, let me know what you think.

How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment when we realize we have discovered a friend.


Girls on the Porch

 How rare and wonderful is that flash of a moment
when we realize we have discovered a friend. –
William Rostler

Oh, you wanted some too?